Vitamin K is an essential nutrient for maintaining proper blood clotting and healthy bones. It's a fat-soluble vitamin present naturally in many foods. Healthy bacteria that live in your intestines can also manufacture vitamin K. Your body can store vitamin K in the liver and fat tissues, making deficiency rare. You do need to limit your vitamin K intake, however, when taking certain medications, such as blood thinners.
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Leafy green vegetables are one of the richest dietary sources of vitamin K. This category includes kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach and leaf lettuce. These greens contain anywhere from 265 to 531 micrograms of vitamin K per 1/2 cup cooked and 116 to 299 micrograms per cup raw. According to the Institute of Medicine, men need at least 120 micrograms of vitamin K per day, and women need at least 90 micrograms per day.
Other cruciferous vegetables also provide vitamin K. A cup of cooked broccoli or brussels sprouts supplies you with roughly 220 micrograms of vitamin K. A cup of raw broccoli gives you 89 micrograms, and 1/2 cup of cooked cabbage yields 82 micrograms. In addition to vitamin K, these vegetables provide you with antioxidants, fiber, minerals and other vitamins needed to support your overall health.
A few fruits provide vitamin K as well. Eating 1/4 cup of prunes gives you 26 micrograms of vitamin K. A cup of raw blueberries or blackberries gives you 29 micrograms of the nutrient. Kiwis, grapes, pomegranates, currants, avocados, cranberries, pears, melons and apricots also provide small amounts of vitamin K.
Animal products and seafood contain very small amounts of vitamin K. They typically provide no more than 5 micrograms of the vitamin per serving. Cheese, eggs, milk, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, tuna, mackerel and shrimp all contain small amounts of vitamin K. Clams, other shellfish and anchovies have trace amounts of the vitamin as well.
Grain-based foods also provide you with very small quantities of vitamin K. Sandwich bread, dinner rolls, English muffins, biscuits, hamburger buns and bagels have 1 to 11 micrograms of vitamin K per 100-gram serving. Most breakfast cereals contain between 1 and 5 micrograms of vitamin K. Baked goods made from flour, such as cakes, cookies, doughnuts and muffins, give you 4 to 15 micrograms of the vitamin.
Oils and Fats
According to the University of North Carolina, canola and soybean oil contain 20 to 27 micrograms of vitamin K per tablespoon. Other vegetable oils, such as olive, peanut, safflower, sunflower and sesame, have 2 to 4 micrograms of vitamin K. Mayonnaise and margarine contain moderate levels of vitamin K as well.
- National Institutes of Health Clinical Center: Important Information to Know When You Are Taking Warfarin (Coumadin) and Vitamin K
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin K
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Vitamins
- Food Lover's Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Plums (Dried), Prunes, Uncooked
- Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used; Jean A. T. Pennington and Judith Spungen Douglass
- University of North Carolina: Vitamin K Content of Common Foods
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Vitamin K Contents of Grains, Cereals, Fast-Food Breakfasts, and Baked Goods